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Trade - EU and Southern African Countries sign agreement

The agreement introduces commonly agreed and stable rules for trade relations between EU and Southern African Region.

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The European Union and six countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) -  Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland - signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Kasane, Botswana aiming at pursuing economic integration between the two regions.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an inter-governmental organization whose goal is to further socio-economic, political and security cooperation among 15 southern African States: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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This development-oriented agreement, the first of its kind between EU and an African region pursuing regional economic integration, was signed by Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström on behalf of the EU.

"Trade is a tool to spur economic growth and sustainable development. It's also an important factor for integrating regions and forming stronger bonds between countries. With the Economic Partnership Agreement [...], we want to base our trade relations with our partners in the Southern African region on commonly agreed, stable rules", commissioner Malmström said. 

"Fully utilising the economic potential of the private sector and further strengthening trade is critical for the new global development agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals", commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, added. 

The agreement also increases the flexibility of Southern African producers to put together products from components from various countries, without the risk of losing their free access to the EU market, and it provides for a number of protective measures, for instance for nascent, fragile industries or for food security reasons.

The import duties on many of these so-called intermediary goods will be significantly reduced, making the products more easily accessible to Southern African entrepreneurs. For the South African market specifically, particular advantage has been granted to EU producers of traditional quality products with a worldwide reputation that will now get the exclusive right to use their traditional names, or 'geographical indications', in South Africa. On the other hand, several South African geographical indications will, from now on, be protected on the EU market, such as different types of South African wine such as Stellenbosch and Paarl, along with Rooibos tea and other products.

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The EPA also establishes a consultation procedure for environmental or labour issues and defines a comprehensive list of areas in which the partners will cooperate to foster sustainable development. A detailed chapter on development cooperation identifies trade-related areas that could benefit from EU financial support. Furthermore, the EPA creates joint institutions to support dialogue, the smooth handling of all trade issues, and the monitoring of the impact of the trade deal.

The agreement will now be submitted for approval to the European Parliament, and for ratification in the 28 EU Member States according to national ratification procedures and in the Southern African Countries.